When it comes to sales, there are two distinctive approaches: inbound and outbound. But which is the strategy you should be focusing more on? Spoiler alert: The answer is neither. 

If you’ve followed our blogs for a while (thank you!), you’re probably not surprised that we strongly believe in the power of balance when it comes to your sales and marketing efforts. In sales, as in life, there is rarely an easy way to achieve success. More often, it requires a coordinated strategy that picks and chooses the best practices from various types of initiatives, blending a little bit of this and a little bit of that until you hit the sweet spot.

So instead of focusing on inbound sales or outbound sales, you should be focusing on both. And here’s how that works.

What Is Outbound Sales?

Outbound sales refer to sales conversations that are initiated by the sales rep, not the potential buyer.

Instigating buyer engagement can happen in a few ways, including through broad and/or targeted marketing and cold outreach. Instead of just casting a net and sitting back to see if you catch anything, outbound sales involves baiting the hook and pulling on every bite. There are plenty of leads in the sea, after all, and many who, either knowingly or unknowingly, are looking for what you have to sell.

What Is Inbound Sales?

Inbound sales, which is often interchangeable with inbound marketing, are sales conversations that are initiated by the potential buyer.

By expressing interest upfront, leads acquired through inbound sales situate themselves further down the sales funnel than their outbound-earned peers. They’ve acknowledged their problem and are actively seeking out solutions — and they’ve come across your solution as the one that might be it.

What’s a Better Sales Tactic: Outbound or Inbound?

Circling back to the beginning of this article, it should be clear by now that this is undoubtedly a trick question. A well-rounded, effective sales and marketing strategy includes both, with equal prioritization, so that no leads are slipping through the cracks.

Your company needs to have both an outbound and an inbound strategy in place, and these should complement each other for maximum results. And remember: it’s not just about having these strategies in place; it’s about eking out their full potential. Here are a couple of essentials to doing that. 

Your Outbound Strategy

A great outbound strategy puts you in front of potential leads in as many settings as possible. Schedule out attendance at events and marketing conferences to tap into a wider audience and create more brand awareness. In addition, design your outbound strategy so that it allows you to meet face-to-face with more qualified prospects (even if it’s over video chat). This humanizes your brand for a more personalized sales experience, amping up your efforts by conveying likeability and trustworthiness to your leads.

Your Inbound Strategy

A stellar inbound strategy requires an effective approach to email marketing. Generate an email list with online forms and gated content on your site, and use a marketing automation tool to create and send drip campaigns and gradually move inbound leads through the funnel.

Combining Your Strategies

Goodbye siloes and hello integration. Your outbound and inbound sales strategies need to work together, and they should also be bolstered by general practices that are driven toward more effective processes.

Maintain a detailed CRM and link it to your email marketing automation platform so that you have a quick point of reference when trying to remember an individual lead’s situation and, if applicable, your former communications with them. You should also be linking in an analytics platform to allow for more targeted outreach and more productive conversations.

More information is always a good thing to have. What you learn from your outbound sales can help you optimize your inbound efforts to bring more leads to your door. Meanwhile, insights from talking to inbound leads help you build more robust customer profiles and form a better idea of who your ideal audience is. If you rely too heavily on one over the other, you risk losing out on these insights — and by default, losing out on more leads.

Whether you’ve done it consciously or not, your brand has most likely ironed out some key practices already for both outbound and inbound sales. Take a step back for a second and evaluate what’s working and what’s not for both tactics, then look for threads between the two. What can you learn from outbound sales that can improve your inbound sales and vice versa? What are the biggest differences separating your outbound leads from your inbound ones, aside from just how your first contact happened? Once you start answering these questions, you’re already well on your way to successfully integrating your strategies for a more impactful sales process.